Disadvantages of groups
With so many advantages to their credit it cannot be said that group – decisions are perfect or without drawbacks. Given below are a few disadvantages of group – decisions.
- In the first place, it is observed that group decisions tend to be time consuming. It takes time to contact and assemble a group. Once the members of the group are in place, they take their own time in arriving at a decision. There are different opinions and approaches. Naturally, finding the one best way out, or solution to a problem, takes time. An individual on the other hand, would take a decision much sooner.
- In group decision – making it is difficult to fix responsibility. Simply because group members share responsibility, it is not at all easy to find out who is accountable for the final outcome. With an individual taking decision, exactly opposite is the case.
- Group discussion is quite often dominated by a handful of members. It leads to the creation of a group within a group. And, if the dominant group comprises low or medium ability members the overall effectiveness of the group suffers.
- An individual, given the necessary vision, can not only take quick decision, but also maintain high, exacting standards. But in a group, quite often unhappy compromises have to be made, simply because there are social pressures and clashing demands.
- Blurred focus and irrelevant discussions very often defeat the purpose of the group. It reminds one of ‘blind philosophers in a dark room groping for a black cat that is not there”.
- In terms of time, money, energy, and of course man-hours lost, group decision making proves to be very expensive. Sometimes/discussions may take months to arrive at a decision or viable proposition.
(a) Committee and Committee Meetings
As the advantages of group decision far outweigh those of individual decision, it its common practices for people in an organization to form groups for decision making. Most of these groups are face – to – face, interacting groups getting together to take part in a ‘semantic exchange’. They are known as committees. By definitions “a committee is a group appointed by the parent organization, which meets to investigate a problem and later to formulate its report and recommendation.
There are various kinds of committees – standing committee’s executive committee’s advisory committees, and hoc committees and so on. Each of them has its terms of reference well laid out. A standing committee is a permanent committee empowered and entrusted to take management decisions. Its members may periodically change or rotate as per the constitution adopted by the organization. An advisory committee consists of experts in a particular field or fields, or people deemed to be qualified/experienced enough to advise the organization in crucial decision making. Such a committee is generally elected form amongst the members of organizations at an annual general meeting. Its powers are laid down by the parent body to which it’s supposed to report periodically. Its functions relate to the broad organizational goals. An ad hoc committee is constituted for a particular purpose after the fulfillment of which it is dissolved.
Working of a Committee
The working of a committee can be slept out in the following stages:
- Get a clear factual perspective, or collect data.
- Explore attitudes and sentiments of the members.
- Combine the logical and psychological elements.
- Arrive at a decision in the light of the factors cited above.
- Have a faithful record of the deliberations and decisions arrived at.
The role of the group leader/chairperson
No group decision making/meeting can proceed without a leader. The terms ‘leader’, ‘chairman’, ‘chair’, ‘chairperson’ are used interchangeably now a days. It is, however, more common to use the terms ‘leader’ in the context of an informal group discussion, and ‘chairman’ in the context of a committee/conference/public meeting/formal discussion.
As a manager one has to chair both formal and informal discussions. The roles of the leader for both occasions are separately stated but more often than not they set easily combined. That is how formal meeting are often rounded off as informal ones, and informal meetings lead to serious, businesslike, formal discussions. Whatever be the situation, the onus of piloting the discussion lies on the shoulders of the chairman.
Given below are some useful guidelines for a group leader/chairperson
- Understand the ‘group personality’. Every group has a personality of its own. Even if the members are drawn from different back grounds/fields of activity/branches of the organization, they to acquire certain characteristics that they share with one another. This way we get what may be called a sort of unity I the midst of diversity, a homogeneity arising out of heterogeneity. Once we belong to a group we tend to achieve a certain amount of conformity, and our opinions and actions are influenced by group opinion. This tendency gives the group, as well as the individual members of the group recognition and approval.
Every group wields considerable power. Needless to say that a group is always stronger than an individual. By the sheer social force of the group we develop a sense of belonging turn to the group for support, take up matters of vital importance with higher authorities or the ‘power that be’ through the group. Every one, nowadays, is familiar with the power of, ‘Consumer forums’, ‘Residents’, welfare Association’, and of course the workers’ unions
A chairperson cannot afford to overlook ‘group prejudice’. We may not admit that we have strong likes and dislikes, prejudices and predilections. In a group of likeminded people these prejudices become not only stronger but clearly expressed binding factors.
Every group cherishes certain values or ideals. These values/ideals have to be shown proper respect/regards. A clear understanding of the group values will provides a basis for predicting or foreseeing the programmes or actions that the group is likely to support. It will also help the leader to understand one group’s aggressiveness to another.
It has been mentioned earlier in this book that any change is met with some degree of resistance. Much will depend on the group’s attitude to social/technological/structural change its is also useful to know how the group itself would like to bring about a change or, perhaps, they would like the status quo o continue.
So, it is very important on the part of a leader/chairperson to be familiar with the personal its traits of the group on the deliberations of which he s going to preside.
2. The importance of planning and purpose has been talked about earlier in this chapter. It is, therefore, obligatory for the leader to get the agenda of the meeting circulated fairly in advance. It will help the members to come prepared.
3. Encourage participation and invite contributions from all the members. It requires very careful, deft handling of the entire group decision making situation. The members have to be shown their importance and enthused to speak.
4. On whatever is spoken by a member the manger must be in a position to give expert comments. It means, therefore, that he must be well informed. He need not be and cannot be a specialist. But a very good general awareness is an invaluable asset.
5. In order to save time, and to give time to as many members as possible to speak the chair person must keep summarizing. For this purpose he has to have clear thinking and very good communication skills.
6. Ability to interpret, from one language to another, is also an important asset for a manager care has to be taken to keep the spirit of the original. Now that almost all business is going global, ability to communicate in more than one language is becoming increasingly important.
7. No meeting can be successful unless the chairperson learns to control the members, the discussion through meaningful interruptions/interventions, and insisting on relevance.
8. Emotional build up should be kept to the minimum. Human beings are guided by logic but do get carried away by emotions. No meeting can be successful if emotion is allowed to get the better of reason. A chairperson has, therefore to be a very cool – headed person working with a positive approach to all kinds of situations, and persons.
9. A chairperson has to be impartial. Every member has to be given equal importance and attention.
10. With all these positive traits, the leader has also to stick to business.
(b) Command Meetings
The term ‘command meeting’ is self explanatory. It is used to describe a meeting between a manager and his subordinates. It was first used and developed by Wilfred Brown, the former chairman of the Glacial Metal Company. Here the element of corporate responsibility, that is the very life or essence of committee meetings, is missing. In a command meeting the manager alone is responsible for decisions, and the subordinates are obliged to give him the benefit of their opinion. But then, in this context, the term ‘industrial democracy’ loses its meaning. The difficulty is that subordinates in a group setting. Under the command of their boss, often feel compelled to act as the opposition”, while actually the aim of the manager/leader is to share information with them and clear up misunderstandings, state policies of the company, and spell out instructions.
In a command meeting, it is for the manager to decide where and when the meeting should take place, and what procedure is to be followed. Naturally, the responsibility solely lies with the manager. Many subordinates go to the meeting with the idea of sharing their feeling and ideas. In this way they may feel morally committed to the decisions made at the meeting. But they are under no obligation to implement the decisions of a command meeting.